Death March

I feel as though I’m on a death march – a long, grueling, weary march to an unknown destination, with no idea whether I can make it. In a death march, if you stop marching, you die. That’s what it feels like.

My physical situation is better than it was last year, far better than it has been most of my life. Still, I don’t have the things that make life worth living. I go to therapy, go to work, and go home. I talk to my few remaining friends if I can. Usually I can’t, because they’re too close to the problem, wanting to help instead of just to listen. I try to meet women, without success. I’ve done all of this before. I don’t feel any closer today.

The lack of progress makes it difficult to hope or to keep trying. I don’t continue because I have hope. I continue because I know that if I stop, I will die. Maybe I’ll eventually commit suicide; maybe ‘death’ will be to live a life of quiet desperation. But to stop is to die on some level.

Imagine that you find yourself in some isolated desert, with no idea where you are, where you need to go, how far it is to get anywhere, what direction leads to help or to safety. What are the options? You can sit down and just wait to die, or you can pick a direction and start walking.

I chose to keep moving, even if the effort was hopeless. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find my way home. If not, at least I’ll know I gave it my best effort. But the path is wearying. I don’t know what I need to do, how long I must hold out. Will I get there today? In a month? Year? How long can I keep going, without giving up? How much longer can I keep trying, when I feel no closer to my goals?

Sometimes I want to give up. I’m tired. I hurt. I have to keep trying even though my needs are not being met. How tempting to stop, to just lie down. But as the poem says, “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep…

Sometimes all that keeps me going are those promises.

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